Getting to know me, Real Medicine

Why I Paed

il_fullxfull.1060268322_b3xh_1b44cb32-38e5-43f0-83cd-e66691807124_grandeWhenever I talk about my love for child health, and my intention to pursue it as a career, I get this kind of response:

“Oh, I could never work with kids. It just breaks my heart to see them suffer!”

I don’t get it.

I mean, maybe I’m a cold-hearted bitch, but I don’t think so.

I hold children down and stick them with needles, because I know it’s necessary to make them better. I scrub burn wounds and I encourage parents to wait outside because I know they’ll cry and/or likely try to assault me for hurting their babies.

I also use topical anaesthetic cream liberally and question IV lines when I don’t think it is absolutely necessary. I’m liberal with analgesia prescriptions because pain is more harmful than useful in a hospital setting.

I see malnourished and abused children, and sometimes I bite my tongue raw to keep my temper.

I’ve told mothers that their children had cancer, and I’ve told them that their kids would be developmentally delayed for the rest of their lives. I’ve told them that their kids will live, but that they will be long-term patients.

(Thankfully rarely) I’ve informed parents that their baby was no longer alive.

* * * 

But I give more high-fives than I give pain.

I get gummy smiles and snotty laughter and the wide-based gait of children waddling around my legs.

I call in the social workers and the dieticians and we (try to) address systems, not just lapses in judgment.

I get to pick up a crying infant and feel it relax, because although human contact isn’t medicine, sometimes it’s just what you need in that moment. Both of you.

I get to discharge more patients than I ever have to declare demised.

When I tell a parent that their child is disabled, I get to tell them about disabled people who don’t only live, but THRIVE.

I get to admit a shocked child, and see her running around the ward two days later.

I get to witness the purity of the human spirit first-hand.

I tread among the future.

Paediatrics is the great success-story of 20th century medicine, and I rarely cry for it.

* * * 

Adult medicine? Oh I couldn’t. I’d cry all day.

Getting to know me, Real Medicine, Studying Medicine

The Best Gift I Ever Gave Myself

I don’t really know how to start this post, because it’s been so long since I wrote anything more than a point-by-point replay of my day and my patients, or maybe a little book review. Partially it’s because my apartment was robbed in February, and my laptop with it, and I’ve yet to replace it.

Partially it’s because I haven’t known what to write. Blogging and writing have been some of my greatest coping mechanisms, but when things get really bad, I tend to draw a blank and avoid writing at all.

So I guess that’s how I’ll start: things have been really bad. Continue reading “The Best Gift I Ever Gave Myself”

Bookishness, Getting to know me

Adjusting to Cape Town

If you’ve wondered where I’ve gone, or why my last post was such a random shout from the dark… it’s because adjusting to a new life in Cape Town has been hard. Even though it is sort of the land of milk and honey (see previous post).

I started the year with a lot of plans (don’t we all) of having a gorgeously decorated apartment that was always neat and tidy, continuing to read a lot, writing more often, working on furthering my career, and having a lot of friends.

Tah-dah! #bulletjournal #level10life #colour #BuJo #2017 #goals #moleskine #stabilo

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Continue reading “Adjusting to Cape Town”

Real Medicine

Working in the Land of Milk and Honey

By some kind of dumb luck, I am doing my Community Service posting at an incredible children’s hospital in Cape Town, rather than the archetypal middle-of-nowhere clinic post we all expect for ComServe.

And it’s incredible.

#lucky to work with this view; less lucky to be #oncall Friday and Sunday. #weekend #capetown

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This hospital is just something else. It’s public, but has so much private funding that it might as well be a private hospital. It gets a lot of private patients so clearly I’m not alone in my perception.

Some things that continue to blow my mind:

1. Pain management team

Absolutely essential, of course, but not something we had access to in the Eastern Cape. As part of pain management, our kiddies have access to aromatherapy and music therapy. How cool is that?!

2. Psycho-social services

When adults bring kids to hospital and they have witnessed violent events, the adults get debriefing practically before the kid even leaves the emergency unit. When a kid gets hit by a stray bullet, he gets trauma debriefing. There are support groups for kids with any number of conditions. All of these things should be a given, should’t they? But again, it’s something I’ve never seen.

3. Palliative Care Team

Last year, I often had to decide on my own whether a patient was for active resuscitation or not. It was a horrible responsibility, but not that I’ve learned just how much is involved within the practice of palliative care, I realise how WRONG it is for a clinician to have to make such decisions without an entire palliative care team.

My entire view of palliation has changed.

4. Gorgeous Operating Theaters

There are theaters with views of Table Mountain, and I just… wow. (The on-call room also has a view of the mountain.)

5. Clinicians who love their jobs

I can’t begin to tell you how amazing it is to be surrounded by senior doctors who are still passionate about their work. It gives me hope.

 * * *

One thing that is not available in the land of milk and honey is small-size theater scrubs. I still have to use a whole host of improvisations to prevent my pants from falling down when I scrub in for theater.

Oh well.

Getting to know me, Real Medicine

Preparing for the Next Step: 2017

The year has passed into its second half, and so I am nearing the beginning of my last rotation of internship. Nearly twenty months of working now, and I’m still a baby-doctor, but I’ve grown so much in confidence and skill.

After the two-year internship comes a year of mandatory community service as a medical officer. Because of a scholarship agreement I am contracted to work in the Western Cape (not an altogether bad thing) for the CosMO year, and four more beyond that.

map-of-south-africa-according-to-capetonians
A little something-something about my future place of residence 😛

Continue reading “Preparing for the Next Step: 2017”